When most people get bored, they eat. When I get bored, I brainstorm new series and features for the blog, and THEN eat. And not too long ago, as I was brainstorming and contemplating what I wanted to eat, I thought how cool it would be to have a mini-foodie series where authors share the things they like to eat. Photos and recipes and all. And so I asked them, and amazingly they responded, and I dubbed it EAT LIKE AN AUTHOR. Today, Alan M Clark, author of the bizarro early western The Door That Faced West, shares a southern recipe you are sure to fall in love with...
Certain flavors of the American South
stick with you, especially if you are a Southerner as I am. They create nostalgia to smell or taste them.
As one who has written historical fiction about southern people and environs,
such favors are just the thing to put me in a creative state of mind. I’ve
always loved cajun and creole cooking. Visiting New Orleans and some of the
surrounding State of Louisiana, I’ve sampled many different cuisines
particular to that part of the world.
When not in that area, I’ve tried a cajun or creole restaurant
here and there, but I never found the food to be very good. I wanted to make a
good pot of gumbo or shrimp creole, but I didn’t much like the recipes I found.
In the ‘80s I taught painting at Centennial
Park in Nashville, TN, and had a student whose name was Roberts (It’s
been so long now, I cannot remember her first name). She had illustrated her
mother’s cookbook. Her family was from New Orleans. Her mother, Bobbie Roberts (I know the name because it’s
on the cover of the book) had written the Mélange! A Celebration
of Louisiana Kitchens.
In it, I found recipes that tasted like those you find in and around New
I’ve altered the recipe for gumbo that I
got from the cookbook a bit. It gets
rave reviews when we have a house full of hungry guests. Here’s
my recipe, based on Bobbie Robert’s version.
Mine I call Bog Mummy Gumbo.
chicken, preferably a hen
small dash of molasses
cup “What’s-This-Here-Sauce” (Worcestershire
with salt and ground green and black peppercorns and cayenne pepper.
lb. Andouille sausage. If this can’t be found use a smoked sausage such
of green onions or onion tops
Tablespoons of Gumbo File (ground sasafras leaves)
the vegetables should be chopped roughly.
a roux in a heavy cast-iron pan using the oil and flour. Heat until a dark brown, stirring
constantly. Do not allow to burn.
roux is hot throw in all the vegetables except the parsley and green onions or
the vegetables look cooked, dump in the chicken whole, pour in the beers, the “What’s-This-Here-Sauce,” molasses,
and enough water (you could use stock made from boiling crab and shrimp shells)
to cover the chicken. Add salt and
ground green, red, and black pepper to taste. Simmer slowly for 2 hours.
chicken and allow it to sit and cool a bit.
the sausage roughly and throw it in the pot.
Continue to simmer very slowly.
chicken is cool enough pick off the meat and chop roughly, then return it to
the pot. Throw away the skin and bones
of the chicken.
the last three ingredients and serve immediately in bowls over a small amount
of rice. Just before serving you can
also put crab, shrimp, crawfish and such like in it.
is one of those dishes that you can add a few extras to, such as cave crickets,
crayfish, tree bark slimed by the Mingit Toad, oysters, and such-like. It is usually cooked in a big pot, so be
careful not to fall in—unless you really want to.
Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in
a house full of bones and old medical books. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts
from the San Francisco Art Institute. His illustrations have appeared in books
of fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction and children's books.
Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four
Chesley Awards. He is the author of thirteen books, including seven novels, a
lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction
full-color book of his artwork. His latest novel, The Door That Faced West,
is an Early Western that takes place in Tennessee and Kentucky in 1799-1800. www.alanmclark.com